West Indies takes on Sri Lanka in the first semi-finals to be played in Dhaka on Thursday. This promises to be an absolute cracker – both are champion sides with serious talent.
Sri Lanka is all about the mystery bowling. When they fire, they fire really well. They have bowled out Netherlands for 39 and New Zealand for 60. In the other two games, they have conceded 160 to South Africa and 190 to England. Malinga has not been in top form while the others – Herath, Mendis, Kulasekara, Mathews have all bowled reasonably well. Their batting has been adequate without being threatening. There has been one good knock from Jayawardene and decent outings for Kushal Perera, Dilshan and Angelo Mathews. Overall Sri Lanka has been inconsistent and, one feels, not been stretched too much in the tournament.
West Indies on the other hand have reached the semi-finals with hard fought wins. They struggled big time against India and looked listless in all aspects of the game. Credit to them – they recovered quickly. They were solid against Bangladesh. They pulled off a stunning win against Australia in probably the match of the tournament so far – with superb batting performances from Gayle, Bravo & Sammy. In the must-win final match against Pakistan, they were tottering at 86 for 5 after 15 overs. Bravo and Sammy stunned the Pakistan bowling with a brutal 82 runs from the last 5 overs. And then the Pakistan batsmen were all at sea against the varied bowling attack of West Indies. This team is battle hardened and all their players are putting their hand up to be counted.
The West Indies seem to be peaking at the right time – their lower order batting is exceptional and their bowling is very good. If they get help from Gayle and Smith at the top – this team will be hard to beat. Sri Lanka on the other hand have to play really well in all aspects in order to beat the Windies. If their trump card – spin bowling – fires, they will have a much better chance of winning.
My money is on the Caribbeans.